Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, October 28, 2004


No game is as welded to the American saga as baseball. No other game could be. It suits us. Beginning in February when pitchers and catchers report, and we see placid scenes of professional atheletes "training" by jogging or politely playing catch in southern climes, to the fevered battles in October, just ahead of the oncoming winter, the game is always with us. It moves in great arcs, each rising out of the one before. The hopeful beginnings in April, to the shake-out month of May, to the end of the beginning in June, to the now-it-gets-serious month of July, to the ramp up in August, to the fiery conclusion in September and the I feel like I'm eating nails October. There is a vast sweep to a season, with each individual series moving the story along a little at a time.

The game moves along with us, as we move along in our lives. The game comes to us through a radio in a garage as we put together little Billy's first bike. The game is on the tv in the background as little Susie practices her first scale on the piano. We listen to the game on the car radio as we drive home from the hardware store on a Saturday afternoon. We check the boxscores in the morning newspaper. They are always there, the comfort of familiarity.

The other sports have their appeal. The NFL is a spectacle of crashing thunder, but with only 16 regular season games, each game is a staccato burst of emotion that impacts hard and quickly dissipates. The Super Bowl is a single, mighty flash. Hockey could never let go of its senseless gladiator element, and now is determined to kill itself off in labor struggles. The NBA has become a marketing gimmick, with overamped music and shallow tricks of entertainment. The game itself is played largely by rich punks who care little for lasting traditions and history.

But baseball, now there's a sport with history. How could it not be so? The long seasons demand an awareness of the past, and the use of statistics in the game is a spigot of history.

It is a game of perfect dimensions. The distance to first base, for instance, is not so close that the baserunner can be rewarded with a hit even for a meager tap to an infielder, but it is not so far either that an infielder can be sloppy and lazy and still have time make the throw to first. There is a balance there in the infield, the constant tension between whether a well-hit ball will triumph over a well-made defensive play. How many times do we see the ball just nip a runner at first, the ball entering the glove just as the runner's foot is poised over the bag? Change the dimensions of the infield a few feet one way or the other and we never see those plays. Likewise, the outfield walls are not so close that a hitter can bunt the ball over the wall for a home run, but the walls are not so far either that no one can reach the seats. There is balance in the outfield, too, where only a solid, mighty swing results in a home run. In pitching, a human being is not capable of throwing the ball so hard that no one could ever hit it. Yet, only the very best pitchers can throw it well enough to defeat the best hitters. There is balance at the plate.

This balance in the game is in keeping with our American character. We like the fact that someone can work hard and become that pitcher that is just a little better than the hitter, or become the hitter that is just a little better than the pitcher, or become that fielder that makes the tough play to take away a hit. We like the fact that success does not come easy in this game, it has to be earned. And it will come, if deserved.

Last night, the Boston Red Sox earned their success. They won the World Series for the first time since 1918. The length of time between these championships has become the stuff of legend. For those of us who are not RedSox fans, it's hard for us to understand how going so long without winning had drilled itself into flinty New England souls. But those of us on the outside looking in, we do understand history, and we do understand how this game is a river running back into our past.

In 1918, World War I was about to end, as the European powers had exhausted themselves in bloody trenches. Only a few years before, over 50,000 veterans had returned to Gettysburg to mark the 50th anniversary of that battle. Can you imagine? The last RedSox championship might have been witnessed by someone in the stands who had once stood on Cemetary Hill watching Pickett's men begin their charge.

Since then, the RedSox futility in their chase for another championship become part of American history, not just baseball lore. Consider: (with some help from this article)

In 1946, in their first World Series appearance since 1918, the RedSox lost to the Cardinals in seven games, falling behind in the 8th inning of Game 7 when "Pesky held the ball". Pesky was on hand last night, gray hair and all, to witness the celebration he didn't get to participate in 58 years earlier.

In 1948 Boston lost a one-game playoff to Cleveland for the pennant.

In 1967, in their next visit to the World Series, Boston again lost to the Cardinals in seven games. Bob Gibson won three games in that Series. One his teammates was Tim McCarver, who was in the tv booth last night.

In 1975, the RedSox battled the Reds in the World Series. Game 6 ended with Carleton Fisk famously hitting a home run down the left field line, waving in fair, willing it fair, leaping into the air when it hit the pole. Alas, the RedSox lost Game 7 the following night, even after getting ahead 3-0 till the sixth inning. Joe Morgan rapped a single in the top of the ninth to put the Reds up 4-3. Morgan was in the radio booth last night, calling the game.

In 1978, in the only other one-game playoff for the pennant, the RedSox, who had had at one point a 14 game lead in that season, lost to the Yankees. Bucky Dent, who was not a home run hitter, hit a three run home run in the 7th inning, leading to a 5-4 Yankees win.

October 25, 1986. Perhaps the cruelest blow of all. After all the anguish of the preceding decades, the RedSox were up 3 games to 2 against the Mets, in Game 6. In the tenth inning, up 5-3, Boston retired the first two batters. What happened next is legend. After three straight singles, to make it 5-4, with a man on first and third, Boston brought in pitcher Bob Stanley. Stanley's wild pitch scored the runner from third to tie it at 5-5, and the runner on first advance to second. The next batter, Mookie Wilson, hit a routine grounder to first baseman Bill Buckner, who was hobbled with bad ankles. The ball went through his legs, the Mets won Game 6 6-5. But the Sox still had another chance. They were even up 3-0 going into the sixth inning of that game, before losing 8-5.

In 1996, Roger Clemens was granted free agency after Boston's then-general manager Dan Duquette said the pitcher was in the "twilight" of his career. Over the next eight years, Clemens went on to post a 136-53 record while earning three more Cy Young awards and two World Series rings with the Yankees.

In 1999, Boston blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth and stranded 11 runners in a 6-1 loss to New York in Game 5 of the ALCS.

In 2003, in the ALCS against the Yankees, in Game 7 Boston was ahead 5-2 in the 8th inning. Manager Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long, despite the fact Boston had strong bullpen, and the Yankees tied the game at 5-5. The Yankees then won in the 11th inning on a home run by Aaron Boone.

And now, in 2004, after being down 3-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees, faced with the fact no team was ever come back from that deep a hole, the RedSox did the impossible. Against the mighty Yankees lineup and the best closer in the histor of the game, Boston won 4 straight, then beat St. Louis 4 straight to win the World Series.

After 86 years, after Prohibition, penicillin, the Depression, World War II, the Korean War, JFK, Vietnam, Watergate, enforced busing, Reagan and the Cold War, Clinton, 9/11, Iraq, after all that, we once again get to touch our past. Because of baseball.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Last night John and I sort of had a game night. Rhonda played with Hanna, and John and I played some board games. We started off with Candyland. He plays that one just fine, understands the rules, how to move, etc... He draws a color, and moves his piece to the right spot, we take turns, etc... Then, we played the Care Bears game. The nasty Professor Coldheart kept making us cold! Then, we played the HiHo Cherryo game. He does that quite well also. Finally, we played a little Chutes and Ladders. He still doesn't quite have that one figured out yet. Instead, he ended up just counting all the way to 100, pointing at each square as he went.

I was up doing some reading (while keeping an eye on the World Series game, which the RedSox won to go up 3-0!) and not long after heading for bed, I heard a clump in the other room. I think Hanna fell out of bed. She didn't cry though, she just came padding into our room, didn't say anything. She usually doesn't when she comes in late at night, just stands there. I picked her up and brought her back to her bed.

Here is a rather interesting graphical representation, county by county, of the 2000 Presidential election results. And here is another, only much larger. OK, a show of hands for how many people want this country to be run by people in New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles? Hmm, me neither.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

John is getting so good at the computer. I haven't really showed him directly how to do much, but he's already clicking and dragging, he can do the various little games and activities all by himself, knows where to click to exit, or to answer questions, etc... I'm amazed!

Last night Rhonda went over to Family Resources for a meeting, so John was on the computer and Hanna and I were on the couch for awhile. We were watching Baby Bach and playing Barbies. Hanna often wants me to play Barbies with her. So, she wanted the Barbies to watch too, so we turned the dolls to the tv, and then I'd take my doll and ask her doll something, and Hanna thought that was very funny.

Somewhere, maybe Sue's house, or maybe sunday school, she learned the song "this is the day the Lord has made", and she likes to sit and sing that song by herself, and she always claps along with it, and she often wants me to sit and sing and clap with her. Last night I was getting supper made, but she wanted me to sit on the kitchen floor and sing, and when we were done she said "pick one", meaning pick another song, so we did and sang that, etc...

I also taught Hanna the Kung Fu! I kinda do a Bruce Lee hi-ya pose and do a karate chop, and Hanna does that too. But of course, the way she does it is so cuter than me!

I looked at my profile here for the first time the other day, and I was stunned. I started this blog in January 2003, and it said I've written over 103,000 words so far! Wow, I would never have guessed I had that much. But you know what that means? I could have had my novel done by now! This has given me renewed zeal to get after it, even though I have no time. In the blog, I rarely spend more than 5 or 10 minutes on a post, and average about 5 posts a week. So, with the novel, I don't need to write an hour a day. I can just take 5 or 10 minutes a day on it, and like the Hare in the fable, just keep at it, and slowly the words build up and in another year or so, I can be close to done! So, that's the plan anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Go RedSox!! They are up 2-0 over the Cards. But before we get all excited about the Curse of the Bambino finally being put to rest, in the 1986 Series, the RedSox were up 2-0, after winning the first two on the road yet, and we all know what happened there. The Sox only won one out of three in Boston, and then came the infamous Game 6. The Sox were up two in the tenth inning, and the Mets scored three in the bottom of the tenth, after the Sox retired the first two batters in that inning. Then it all went into the sewer, with the killer blow, the ball going through Buckner's legs.

So, let's not count our championships before they're hatched, especially when the RedSox are involved.

Had a decent business meeting last night. They went easy on me for my first time out.

Kids had fun swimming, I hear. The whole swimming thing is really clicking with John, he just does more and more each time. He didn't have a nap yesterday though, so with the swimming he was quite tired last night. You could just see it in his eyes. So, it was hard to roust him out of bed this morning.

Here's a math joke that will have math geeks rolling on the floor:

Q---What's purple and commutes?
A---An Abelian grape.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tonight at church is our quarterly business meeting. Which means the first one I get to run. Great. My favorite thing to do.

John didn't nap today. He's upstairs watching Thomas. Hanna is still sleeping. Rhonda will probably take them swimming while I go to the church.

The other day in the van John found the ark he had made last week in sunday school, and it must have had his name on it, because he said "I'm K. John", and then he said "I'm John K." Ha. There's another John his age, and so on his papers they always write "John K."

We went swimming Friday night. John is really coming along with his swimming. Rhonda got him a good pair of goggles, so he goes underwater, holds his breath, and even kinda sorta swims. He'll be a fish in no time. Hanna was having fun sitting in the shallow water and flopping backwards. I grabbed a little beach ball floating by and tossed it to her a couple times, but she brought it over to me and said "don't throw right now, I'm swimming". oh, beg your pardon!

Friday, October 22, 2004

I've added a couple things to the New Look. Down the right side are some of my favorite links. Also, after the list of archive links I added a search facility. You can search my site (or Google itself, with the radio button) for keywords. Granted, there isn't tons of stuff on my site, but it's a neat toy.

Had a deacons mtg last night. Didn't get home till late, so I missed the baseball game. Sounds like a good one. So, Bill and Kris get to experience Scarlet Fever! But I say, Go Sox!

The kids came and crawled into bed with us this morning. They all went to our 40 Days small group last night. Sounds like they had fun.

We might go swimming tonight. The Y is often rather busy on Friday nights though.

Traffic has been very good the last couple days. I think I heard the teachers are out with conventions or something. Wow, always surprising that there is that much school-related traffic at rush hour, that that can make a difference.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Welcome to the new look! Blogger is still having some problems republishing entire blogs, so some of the pages down in the archive haven't been updated yet. Over time I want to put some of my favorite links along the side.

RedSox win! Wow, what a series. Historic. And all the more sweeter because the Sox did it to those obnoxious loudmouth Yankees fans. I like the Yankees team itself, the players are mostly all good guys. And manager Torre is a class act. But to see Steinbrenner's money go down the drain, and all those sad faces in the stands, it is just too good to be true.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The other day when we went by a construction site, Hanna saw a Bobcat driving around, and it had a yellow light flashing on top of it. Hanna said "look, a police car!"

A little damp and foggy this morning, but supposed to maybe get up to the 50s today, and maybe 70 (!) by Friday, only to have another cold front come through.

Wow, what a baseball game last night. The RedSox have done something never before accomplished in baseball history. They have come back from down 0-3 in the ALCS to tie the series at 3-3. Game 7 is tonight. I'd love to see the Sox win (i.e., the Yankees lose). I still think the Yankees gotta be favored tonight.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ha. Was supposed to be a somewhat decent fall day today I thought, but so far anyway it's still overcast and damp. Boooooooooo.

Rhonda was going to take Hanna to Walmart today. So Hanna reminded me this morning she was going there. She likes to "run errands".

RedSox won another terrific extra inning game last night. Yanks still lead the series 3-2. ASL Guy Schilling is going to try and pitch for the Sox tonight. In the NL, the Astros won a great game, and now lead 3-2, with the series going back to St. Looey.

I have a deacons mtg on Thursday. Rhonda will take the kids to the 40 Days study. We have a gal who watches the kids while we're upstairs. That helps a lot.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Last night we ended up doing both choices. We went swimming for about an hour, and then went to Mcdonalds. We went to one we hadn't been to before, on Foley, which was on the way home. It's a lot like the one in Fargo we've stopped at it. The kids had fun.

The kids made arks in sunday school yesterday, and they put animal crackers in them for the "animals". I asked Hanna, "did you make an ark?" and she said "no, a boat." Oh, I stand corrected.

We finished up our box of Lucky Charms, which boths kids just love (specifically the marshmallows!) So this morning when I was getting them breakfast, they wanted Lucky Charms again, and I said sorry, we don't have any more, we ate them all up. And John was distressed, and he said to me in this most plaintive voice "can we go to the grocery store and get some more Lucky Charms?" Ha.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Happy Adoption Day, John!!!!! Yay!! Whee!! Whoohoo!!! A fine day, indeed. Three years ago today, in a judge's office in Astrakhan, Russia, a judge decreed that a sweet, tiny 16-month-old Tatar boy was now part of our family, and we could take him home. And the rest is history, as they say.

After lunch today, the kids helped Rhonda make cupcakes. And also helped her eat the batter. They're napping now. After they get up, we'll ask John want he wants to do to celebrate, if he'd like to go swimming or ot Mcdonalds.

John is so cute when he says his prayers. He says "Thank you for God, thank you for God for making storms, and thank you for God for food. Amen."

At church this morning, he wanted to go into the men's restroom, and he said "I want to be a man!"

He played Candyland by himself again before heading off for his nap, and he did his little computer Pooh story thingie as well.

Hanna was ready for a nap too. Rhonda was outside tearing out frozen flowers, and Hanna went out to see what was going on.

A definite chill in the air today. Temps might go back up to mid to high 50s this week, but the cold grip of winter is starting to tighten, eager to throttle us in its deadly grasp. wwwaaahhhhh.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Had a good day of school. I'm enjoying my classes. Last couple of weeks I've had lunch at a Chinese place nearby. I've had this hot chicken garlic dish. Mmmm, is that ever good.

Lately when Hanna goes to the potty, she asks us to stay out and says "I need privacy". Ha, not sure where she got that.

John was watching Dumbo, and when it was over I put on a little cartoon on the dvd about Casey Jr and how the sounds are made. He's watched it before and liked it, but tonight it seemed to really scare him. In the cartoon, there's a big storm, and a bridge is out, and Casey is heading right for the bridge. And poor John, he started crying and saying "What's happening?!". So, I turned it off. Not sure it scared him this time.

Rhonda went out shopping, so we're having a fun Daddy night. We have the fireplace on down here, to keep nice and cozy warm.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Last night, for the first time, John was playing his Candyland game on the computer all by himself. Sniff. My baby's growing up. I'll start him on Java next week.

I started out helping him, but he's been doing more of the clicking lately, so I just sat him in the chair by himself and he did everything in the game all by himself. All the clicking, he knew what to click on, etc... He's a computer genius!

John's preschool has some kind of field trip today, so Rhonda will go with him. I dropped Hanna off at Sue's house this morning. Rhonda wanted to take her to Jessica's house, but she didn't get back to Rhonda.

RedSox lost again last night. Sigh. Can no one on this stinking planet beat the Yankees?

I only caught the last few minutes of the debate. While John was playing on the computer, I was getting some homework done.

Tonight we have our first smallgroup meeting related to the 40 Days. We'll go over to someone's house. (A former deacon, he's also a software guy, and just started a MSSE program at St. Thomas)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I'm not sure where she picked it up, but Hanna often calls John "Johnny". Ha. We never call him that. Maybe she heard it at Sue's house or something.

When John came home from preschool yesterday, he said they had called him "John Kouba", and pronounced it with the inevitable "oo" sound (as in sooth).

Hanna and John have interacted well lately. At night she'll often go in his room and give him a kiss goodnight. Sometimes they'll chase around with each other.

Winter is drawing ever closer. After some stellar fall weather, a front blew through last night, and today is cool, temps in the high 40s, with some rain. Doesn't promise to be much nicer over the next several days.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Of course, I'm sure you're all already familiar with Soccer Badgers!
Well, we've come to the end of this year's Nobel Prize offering. The prizes for the sciences (medicine, physics, chemistry, economics) remain a fairly solid indicator of good, hard science. (Although, the awards tend not to be for very recent work)

However, the prizes for Literature and Peace have long since become just plain ridiculous. This year's winner for "Literature" is an extreme lefty feminist. See this article about this author who won't be replacing Dickens on my bookshelf any time soon.

And this year's winner for "Peace" is an environmental activist. See this article for more on her, shall we say, unique views. And don't forget Yassir Arafat won the Peace Prize in 1994. Talk about Orwellian.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Twins stink. Boooooo.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The various fire stations around Blaine/Spring Lake Park have been hosting open houses. We went to the one last night at the station down by Calvin Christian School. John was so excited to go. He said "I'm going to go be a fireman!" And on the drive over he said a few times to Hanna "I'm going to be a fireman, and you're going to be a firelady!"

When we got there, first thing they did was get to help spray a fire hose. Then, they clambered around a big fire truck. Sparky the Fire Dog (a person in a costume) was there, and both kids liked giving Sparky hugs. We had some popcorn and cookies and koolaid. There was a police car they climbed through. And an ambulance. The ambulance periodically sounded its sirens, and that got John a little nervous. It was kinda loud.

On the way back to the car (we parked by Calvin) we ran into Jack and Julia and Jace, who were just arriving. Then, the kids played on the playground till dark.

I have school tomorrow. Twins play tonight and tomorrow afternoon. I'm not crazy about their chances.

I submitted a guest column to the Star Tribune, but they didn't print it. So, I've put it on the website. You can find it here.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Man, what a loss for the Stinky Twinkies last night. Aside from hero Torii Hunter, all the other hitters laid down like dogs (outside of the shining inning against Rivera) Kubel was 0 for 6, and looked utterly overmatched. Thanks Gardy for that decision. Stewart, normally the engine of this Little Team That Almost Could But Ultimiately Couldn't, was also 0 for 6. Jones was 1 for 6, and ended the game on his little lollipop throw with Jeter racing for home. Radke stunk. So much for being a big-game pitcher the Twins thought they were holding on to all these years. Of the 12 hits the Twins got, 9 were singles. I don't know how many runners they left on base, or even in scoring position, or what their batting average was with runners on, but it wasn't good.

This series is over. Silva will get blown out of the water tomorrow night, and the hitters will do what they do best, make a bad pitcher look unbeatable. Brown (the guy who broke his hand punching a wall) had a horrible outing his last time out, still has the hand problem, but will look unhittable against the Twins pathetic bunch of hitters. On Saturday, Santana will do well, but just not quite good enough (which is, he'll need to shutout the Yanks like in Game 1 cuz the Twins can't score runs) and will lose a close one.

Oh well, now we can just enjoy the rest of the playoffs and root for the RedSox to finally win the World Series.

After supper last night I took the kids on their bikes over to the park. Man, it gets dark early these days. Rhonda came with Ellie a bit later, and had the radio headphones, so I listened to game for awhile. Later John wanted to put on the headphones, so he did and said "I'm a daddy!" Ha.

I'll often call Hanna something like the Tomato Girl, cuz she likes tomatoes, or John is the Milk Boy, etc... At the park, I was pushing them in the swings, and I said Hanna is the Swing Girl, and John is the Swing Boy. And John said, because I was pushing them, "and you're the Push Boy!" ha, clever boy.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Good heavens, I've been busy. Lots of reading and whatnot to get done for school.

Rhonda just took the kids swimming at the Y, so I'll have a bit of time to get some work done in quiet.

They seemed to do fine in church this morning. Last night we went to the initial evening of the 40 Days program, and left the kids in their sunday school rooms, and Hanna just cried and cried. She eventually settled down, but not sure why she cried.

Twins lost today, so they will play the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. Great. Twins will lost that series. I predict 3-1.

Well, I'd better get back to work.